Elastico Acoustic Ashbory-style bass

Contributed by R.M. Mottola -- August 11, 2003

Hello folks,

So here I was, poking around the Internet and came across your cool site. And I was amazed to find mention of the acoustic Ashbory-style bass I built that was mentioned in an article about the use of plywood in lutherie. That article appeared in American Lutherie #73. The article wasn't really about the bass, so here's some info on it and a few pictures.

The bass has a birdseye maple headstock and fingerboard, maple neck, bridge, and ribs, a spruce plywood top, and a birch plywood back. The body is quite large relative to the scale of the instrument, at 22" across the lower bout. There isn't much of an upper bout, as you can see from the photos. The entire instrument is finished in a light salmon stain and has black binding and ebony trim. For those interested in such things the bracing is similar to classical guitar fan bracing, but is a little simplified.

I built the instrument for research purposes, and it has answered a number of questions and, as with most research, raised a number of new ones. Among other things I have added its sound samples to my library of bass samples, which are subject to spectral analysis and used in my ongoing efforts to engineer small instruments with upright-like tone.

The un-miked tone of this bass is quite good, albeit a little muddy in the bottom couple of notes. It is quiet, but as even upright basses need to be amplified in most musical settings I don't consider this to be much of a drawback. I suspect I'll get around to transducing it at some point, but other things are taking my time now so I don't know when this will happen.

R.M. Mottola

Liutaio Mottola Handcrafted Stringed Instruments

R.M. Mottola is contributing editor for American Lutherie, the journal of the Guild of American Luthiers. See the G.A.L. website at http://luth.org

» View a larger image of the Elastico Acoustic Bass (153k)
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» Illustration showing the bracing pattern used for the instrument (107k, PDF format)

Acoustic Ashbory-like Bass
(Click for larger view)